It’s bitterly cold and I’ve mistimed my arrival at the notoriously drafty Embankment station meaning I’ve got a finger-numbing wait for my date. Pulling my fur stole tighter around my neck and checking my teeth for nuisance crimson lippy, I catch the eye of a gaggle of girls with tall feathers in their perfectly set barnets. They grin at me, checking out my attire, and totter on by in a flurry of fur and tassels.
Minutes later, gentlefellows march past in their smartest of starched shirts and recently shined shoes. I spot chaps in captain’s hats fiddling with perfectly polished cufflinks as they head off towards the river. We exchange knowing glances while baffled bystanders wonder whether they’ve entered a time warp.
The clock strikes 8pm and my date, clad in bow tie, braces and feathered fedora, arrives. We hurry along the river to the Savoy Pier where SS Atlantica is waiting for us to board.
Ahoy there! A night of ’30s style fashion, beverages and dancing awaits.
From 8pm until 2am, the SS Atlantica carries its passengers from this pier past some of the most iconic architecture in London as far as the financial district in the east. From the same imaginative folk who brought us Blitz Party, SS Atlantica will tickle the fancy of any vintage-inspired, dress up-loving people out there.
The boat boasts three bars (two inside and one up on the deck), a mini casino, a dance floor and several live bands and cabaret performers. If none of this lot really does it for you, the capital’s skyline from the Thames can NOT fail to get you going. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve trudged past St Paul’s or Tower Bridge, there’s something about sailing past, and indeed under, them in all their splendidly-lit, majestic glory that will leave you agog.
The cruise is a good excuse to romanticise what one might imagine would have been a frankly dire period to live through (what with the Great Depression and all), but also to celebrate counter culture in big cities throughout the decades. There sure is something special and kinda naughty about whooping and hollering your way through the charleston, the dance of the US speakeasy establishments, whilst sailing past The Shard. She towers over the boat, all glossy and modern, a big, loud emblem of authority and success. It’s a lovely little juxtaposition.
The boat makes its journey east and back twice, docking for half an hour at around 11.30pm at Savoy Pier for any flapper girls and dapper boys who want to catch the last tube home.
My only beef with this jolly jaunt is the beverage selection. I love the idea of serving decadent gin cocktails at a reasonable £8 and bottles of fizz for £50 a pop, but ’30s theme aside, if you’ve forked out 20 sheets to come aboard, you should have the freedom to quaff whatever you please. We’re not mid-Prohibition now, ta very much.
SS Atlantica Cruise took place Saturday 23 March.
Visit ssatlantica.com for details of next event.